Main Priorities

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Priority 1: Identify Service Members, Veterans and Their Families (SMVF) and Screen for Suicide Risk

Team Leads: Michael Hartford & Jeff Obos


  1. Identify Florida’s Veterans to increase opportunities for contact and referral to relevant resources
  2. Make Veterans aware of mental health resources during a critical point of increased suicide risk (separation from the military)
  3. Implement standardized screening for SMVF status and suicide risk in clinical and medical settings
  4. Involve non-VA, non-medical, and non-clinical community partners in asking about SMVF status, noticing suicide risk red flags, and referring individuals at-risk to care
  5. Develop and execute a cohesive Governor’s Challenge outreach, advertising, and media campaign

Main Initiatives:

  • Add mental health resource-related wording to the DVA letter sent to all new Veterans declaring Florida as their state of residence
  • Adding mental health resource-related wording to the email sent to every individual that identifies themselves as a Veteran at the DMV
  • Devise a formalized training for civilians and laypersons so that they can: 1) Be informed about the unique experience of Veterans; 2) Learn how to recognize the red flags for suicide risk
  • Develop a comprehensive advertising and media campaign to make the public aware of Governor’s Challenge efforts and resources, and disseminate educational information

Priority 2: Promote Connectedness and Improve Care Transitions

Team Lead: Nick Howland


  1. Improve awareness of resources, services and benefits available to SMVF
  2. Improve access to resources, services, and benefits available to SMVF
  3. Improve coverage and usage of resources, services and benefits available to SMVF

Main Initiatives:

  • Create a comprehensive, searchable database of region-specific resources relevant to Veterans
  • Disseminate training for civilians and laypersons

Priority 3: Lethal Means Safety and Safety Planning

Team Lead: Walter Sachs


  1. Expand the gun lock distribution program in Florida
  2. Ensure inclusion of consistent, comprehensive means safety messaging in Governor’s Challenge overall messaging campaign
  3. Increase Narcan distribution to additional communities and organizations not already receiving distribution today
  4. Increase attention paid to medication as lethal means
  5. Promote, disseminate, and provide education surrounding the VA’s new Safety Planning App

Main Initiatives:

  • Expand gun lock distribution efforts in Florida
  • Highlight existing medication drop off boxes
  • Expand Narcan distribution
  • Develop and disseminate a means safety campaign
  • Promote safety planning as part of means safety via the VA’s safety planning app